Have you ever wanted to know how medical professionals are able to measure the capacity of your lungs, or diagnose a range of lung conditions?

A spirometer is one of the most common and important diagnostic tools used by medical professionals to this day. Invented in 1846 by a surgeon named John Hutchinson, the original spirometer consisted of a calibrated bell inverted in water, which was used to capture the volume of air exhaled by a person who was breathing into a connected tube.

Modern spirometers are used in much the same way, though todays are much smaller – the original was roughly the same size as an adult human. A spirometry test can provide healthcare professionals a great opportunity when it comes to the early identification and detection of disease. Essentially, Spirometry can identify a range of lung conditions as well as airflow obstruction.


What Happens in a Spirometry Test?

A spirometry test is a non-invasive and simple test. During a spirometry test you can expect the following:

  • Sit upright in the chair provided, with legs uncrossed and both feet flat on the ground
  • A clip will be placed on your nose in order to keep your nostrils closed
  • You will then be asked to take a deep breath in and breathe out as hard as you can for several seconds into the tube of the spirometer
  • You will need to do this at least three times to ensure results are consistent

This test can be quite tiring, so may need to be done over a couple of visits. With this test, a range of conditions can be diagnosed, and as with any prevention can lead to improvement in the wellbeing of the patient.

Conditions that Can be Diagnosed


A spirometry test is the most common accurate way to diagnose asthma.  The test measures your overall lung function and doctors are then able to confirm whether or not a patient has asthma and how severe it may be, and to see if your asthma is getting worse or better with treatment.

The results of the test can help your doctor determine whether medication is necessary. Most adults and children over 7 years of age can do the spirometry test correctly.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Spirometry tests are used to detect and diagnose COPD. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common conditions that make up COPD. Damage done to the lungs due to COPD cannot be reversed, so early detection and diagnosis is vital for the optimal treatment of such conditions.

As well as diagnosis, Spirometry tests can also be used for the doctor to determine which treatment path is ideal for the patient.


As with all conditions, early intervention and diagnosis is key to determining an optimal treatment plan, and fortunately the spirometer is one such invention that can make that possible in a large number of cases.

If you have any further questions about our range of spirometers and accessories, please contact the Team Med staff today.